AMATEURISM ABROAD: AMERICAN DIPLOMACY AND THE EGYPTIAN CRISIS
"Even though Mr. Mubarak has balked, so far, at leaving now, officials from both governments are continuing talks about a plan in which Mr. Suleiman, backed by Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, chief of the Egyptian armed forces, and Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, the defense minister, would immediately begin a process of constitutional reform.
The proposal also calls for the transitional government to invite members from a broad range of opposition groups, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, to begin work to open up the country’s electoral system in an effort to bring about free and fair elections in September, the officials said.
Senior administration officials said that the proposal was one of several options under discussion with high-level Egyptian officials around Mr. Mubarak in an effort to persuade the president to step down now.
They cautioned that the outcome depended on several factors, not least Egypt’s own constitutional protocols and the mood of the protesters on the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities.
Some officials said there was not yet any indication that either Mr. Suleiman or the Egyptian military was willing to abandon Mr. Mubarak.
Even as the Obama administration is coalescing around a Mubarak-must-go-now posture in private conversations with Egyptian officials, Mr. Mubarak himself remains determined to stay until the election in September, American and Egyptian officials said. His backers forcibly pushed back on Thursday against what they viewed as American interference in Egypt’s internal affairs.
“What they’re asking cannot be done,” one senior Egyptian official said, citing clauses in the Egyptian Constitution that bar the vice president from assuming power. Under the Constitution, the speaker of Parliament would succeed the president. “That’s my technical answer,” the official added. “My political answer is they should mind their own business....
A number of high-level American officials have reached out to the Egyptians in recent days. While administration officials would not offer details of the alternatives that were being discussed, they made it clear that their preferred outcome would be for Mr. Suleiman to take power as a transitional figure".
Helene Cooper & Mark Lander, "White House and Egypt discuss plan for Mubarak's Exit,"
The New York Times, 4 February 2011, in www.nytimes.com.
"History is written by the victors; and the Shah is not much in vogue today. Yet it hardly enhances our reputation for steadfastness to hear the chorus today against a leader whom eight Presidents of both parties proclaimed - rightly - a friend of our country and a pillar of stability in a turbulent and vital region."
Henry A. Kissinger, The White House Years. (1979), p. 1258.
The immediately leaked (if not in fact overtly broadcasted) American demarches and or ballons d'essai, on 'resolving' the Egyptian crisis, seems to be worse than useless. They have not moved the crisis to some positive resolution by any measure, and convey the fact to all American allies in the region that when matters reach a crisis point, the American government is not to be relied upon. Something which the recent ouster of the 14th of March coalition in Beirut only gives further evidence to. An event which has been seen in the region, as a 'victory' for Persia, Syria and its allies 1. The fact that Tehran is viewing the current events in Egypt as more evidence that trends are flowing away from the USA and its local allies, and in its direction only will add more evidence to this perception 2. In current circumstances the only way that such changes in governance which the American administration would like in Egypt, id est 'regime change', can only be undertaken by means of sub-rosa negotiations, in which the hand, nay indeed a finger-tip of American involvement cannot be ascertained. Otherwise any eventual successor to Mubarak, either General Suleiman or anyone else, will inevitably be viewed as being an American puppet. The very last thing that is needed in the current circumtances. Instead we have a sort of post-modern version of the tanks surrounding the Abiden Palance circa February 1942, except in this instance with no positive results so far. In short the diplomacy amateurishness. The very antithesis of what Sir Harold Nicolson once described as professional diplomacy:
"The British diplomatist, again is rightly impressed by the supreme importance of avoiding any indiscretion, any intemperate word or action, which may place his government in an embarrassing position 3."
1. Jay Solomon, "Turmoil Heartens US Foes," The Wall Street Journal. 4 February 2011, in www.wsj.com.
2. Monavar Khalaj, "Iran warns U.S. faces a severe policy defeat", The Financial Times. 4 February 2011, in www.ft.com; Haaretz Service, "Livni Warns Merkel: Regional Instability may be exploited by Iran," 4 February 2011, in www.haaretz.com.
3. Harold Nicolson, Diplomacy. (1939), p. 143.